“The NHL may have looked the other way during the first week of 2007, when Kings governor Tim Leiweke visited Kansas City and did his AEG ownership’s bidding by lobbying for the Penguins to move to the AEG-owned and operated arena in KC should things have fallen through in Pittsburgh,” chortles the NY Post’s Larry Brooks, “but the league doesn’t appear to be looking away now.” Hey, the sooner this mess is resolved, the faster the league can concentrate on what’s really important — suing James Dolan.
The NHL isn’t looking away at what from the outside appears to be a blatant conflict of interest and from the inside might be violations of the NHL Constitution and League By-Laws by AEG, which secretly agreed to loan the now-indicted “Boots” Del Baggio $7 million for use toward becoming part of the ownership group of the Predators, coincidentally enough another candidate to move to Kansas City.
Slap Shots has been told by a well-placed individual familiar with the thinking on Sixth Avenue that the NHL will look into the circumstances behind the loan from AEG to Del Baggio, and loans of up to $20 million to Del Baggio from outgoing Nashville owner and current Minnesota owner Craig Leipold.
Think of it. Had Del Baggio remained a part of the group purchasing Nashville, the Kings and the Wild would have had a financial investment in the Predators, and apparently without the knowledge of Gary Bettman or any other member of the Board of Governors.
Prevailing opinion is that Bettman and the NHL look bad for not knowing that Del Baggio was going to morph into John Spano right before everyone’s eyes. But Bettman looks worse for not knowing what his allies on the Board were doing behind his back.